Craig Smith was 26 and enjoying life to the fullest. Life started to change in 2014 when he was diagnosed with viral cardiomyopathy and was placed on an assist device until a new heart could be found.
Smith was the keynote speaker at yesterday’s Third Annual “Donate Life” Flag Raising Ceremony at ACMH Hospital. The yearly event honors organ, issue, and cornea donors, recipients, and their families.
ACMH Vice-President of Patient Services Nichole Geraci served as emcee to greet former patients, family members, and ACMH staff that gathered outside the Snack Bar on the front lawn.
ACMH Hospital President/CEO John Lewis said ACMH plays a large role in advocating for organ donation.
“As I look out over the group today, just by your attendance, it is a reflection of the importance you take in organ, tissue, and cornea transplantation – a commitment that is absolutely needed throughout the year.”
ACMH partners with the Center for Organ Recovery and Education (CORE). Kristen Stone, CORE Director of Laboratory Services, said “Donate Life” Month is a time when her organization makes a collective push to ask people to make a pledge for life by registering to be a donor.
“This flag raising is the foundation of our awareness efforts,” Stone said. “This is a time when we pause to honor those who have given the gift of life and we celebrate the lives saved and enhanced through donation. We also remember the 114,000 who are still waiting for a life-saving organ transplant.”
Smith waited nearly two years before a donor was available. During his speech, he told of the concerns, uncertainties, and finally the exhilaration of being able to continue his life because of someone who signed up to be an organ donor.
“I am reminded that it is only because of my donor and their selfless decision that I am able to be here with my life, to be alive, and make those decisions about my life,” Smith said.
The final agenda item was the raising of the flag – a moving experience for everyone in attendance.